review by Jon
Keiko is a single mother who has to take care of four children.
She works a lot, but still can’t adequately provide for
all of them. To help compensate for the lack of funds, she
houses them all in a small apartment and lies to the landlord
by saying it’s just her and one son. This means the kids
are trapped inside, or else they could be evicted…again.
She starts working and leaving more and more and for longer
periods of time. The oldest son (still pre-pubescent) is left
to be the man of the house. Money comes from the mother every
once in a while, but how long can they last in such a situation?
This depressing and frustrating Japanese film is based on
true events. It works as an okay study of child behavior. They
have to deal with strange and extreme circumstances as well
as improvise, as things get direr. They are incredibly strong-willed
past the point of believability were the characteristics applied
to American children. However, they are still kids, and as
such they don’t always make the best decisions. That’s
where the interest comes in. From watching Akira, the eldest,
slowly descent into a self-serving, uncaring slob you can’t
help but feel anger. You’re angry at the mother’s
selfishness and idiocy, and for even having the children to
begin with. You’re also angry with the children for not
doing more to help their situation, despite the potential consequences.
However, mostly, you’ll be bored. The pace of the picture
is unbearably slow. It’s drawn out in such a way that
you practically feel like you live in the apartment with them.
You’re just as trapped. That’s all well and good,
analytically speaking, but as an audience member it’s
the kiss of death. Why would you want to leave your boring
apartment to see a movie about kids in a boring apartment?
Hirokazu Kore-eda is a fine director with a nice, simplistic
style. He puts a lot of emotion right up there on the frame.
This piece of work however isn’t nearly as entertaining
as his equally slow “After Life.”
The film is almost guaranteed to get a rise out of you. It
just may not be in the way the filmmakers intended. You really
feel the 141-minute running time. It takes a long time to get
to the substantial events that truly shape the film. Too many
situations and locations are revisited too often to keep your
interest, despite that being part of the point. Worst of all,
I don’t really feel like I knew the kids, even after
spending so much time with them. The film had an interesting
story to tell, but it just wasn’t accomplished effectively.
respond to firstname.lastname@example.org